Report

Arevelo makes history for Colombia - Men's Junior Race report

Eider Arevalo celebrates winning the junior 20km and Colombia's first ever gold medal in Chihuahua (IAAF.org)Eider Arevalo celebrates winning the junior 20km and Colombia's first ever gold medal in Chihuahua (IAAF.org) © Copyright

Colombia’s first medal in the IAAF World Race Walking Cup came a day earlier than expected.

Luis Fernando Lopez was hoping it would be him in the men’s 20km - but instead Saturday's second surprise saw Eider Arevelo win in a fast time for the burning heat - as well as producing a personal best for the 17-year-old.

First ever gold for Colombia

Like the men’s 50km winner in the morning, Arevelo bided his time before launching a devastating attack. But when he did it was all over for Chinese Zelin Cai, who was the only one with the Colombian for the last kilometre.

Arevelo pushed on just short of the final turn and then hit the afterburners to put nine seconds between him and Cai by the line.

A tiring Valeriy Filipchuk made sure Russia got at least one medal to go with a podium appearance for his country ever since the first 10km in 2004.

But even the European bronze medallist from last year got lucky when Brazilian Caio Bonfim got a third disqualification card on the last lap when he and the leading two were well clear of the rest.

Filipchuk gives Russia individual bronze and team title

The expected Russian charge from the gun saw all three of their walkers past the 2km mark in 8:33 - well inside that which Filipchuk walked when he won the Russian Winter Championships in February.

And because the pace was just about sustainable for a group of 12 others - for once, the red vests had more company than they’ve come to expect in the last two World Cups.

Lurking just behind was China’s Fudong Cong trying to repeat the feat of his country when they won the inaugural junior 10km in 2004.

But the canny on-course commentators only had to mention the name Ever Palma to bring a chorus of teenage shrieks from hundreds of junior fans presumably bussed into to cheer the Mexican on.

Even if his entire school were behind him, Palma was already getting a walking lesson from Filipchuk and team-mate Konstantin Kulagov, who had forged a five-yard gap on the chasing pack.

Fast pace despite gruelling conditions 

But just shy of 5km, the group including Bonfim closed the tiny lead, and because they were all back together the pace picked up again for six to cross halfway in 21:06 - amazing, considering the 35 degrees that was battering them.

Sensing the Russians were wary of falling foul of the heat, the second Chinese, Cai by this point, also had a kilometre at the front, only to suffer the same fate as the Russians when Arevelo showed for the first time to make up the distance.

At the bell in 34:00 on the button, it was anybody’s from Cai, Bonfim, and Arevelo. But little did the Brazilian realise that three red cards had appeared next to his name, and although he powered on, the 19-year-old was living on borrowed time.

Once he departed, Arevelo hovered like a scorpion ready to deliver the final sting.

The team competition was just as exciting with Russia edging out China for gold, with Arevelo’s day made when Colombia got a team bronze when Alexander Castaneda finished eighth.
 
Paul Warburton for the IAAF